Remnant of Dreams

©®™ Lt. Commander Richie

((Disclaimer:I only own what you don't know as canon. Unless you accept my fiction as fanon. But that would be creepy. On a side note, T. Costa got the 200th review for Penance, and as such T. Costa gets a cameo. Yay her!))

To comrades who have come down from the sky once again,

To comrades who have gathered together once again.

This story is dedicated to you...

Chapter 1

The personal Journal of Dr. Hojo of ShinRa,

March 23rd, Era 0008 010.

The Jenova Project, while completed by Sephiroth's accomplishment of sustaining the Jenova Cells for so long, has not yet come to a complete standstill. Originally begun as the means to create a perfect SOLDIER, other means of using the Project's rather extensive funding has been found. Cloning Sephiroth, our crowning achievement, has come no shorter to greatness than the original feat. Every one of the clones is distinctly different, a trait brought on by the extensive coddling given to them that they do not rightly deserve. They are specimens, not children!

My only concern is this: while all the male clones are different, varying in exponential growth and physical structure, the female clones are not. Every last one is an exact genetic copy of the one before. My speculation may be that since only one female with the correct genetics has cells in storage here that somehow she is responsible. The cells of Ifalna Gainsborough are precious few, but also compatible with Sephiroth's own genetic code; this is more than likely due to the Calamity Cells and Ancient Cells being nearly one and the same.

The female specimens are all in perfect health, vitals are all completely normal, but there has been one problem in every singe one. Each specimen looks the same, and they all have absolutely no brain functions to speak of. This lab has succeeded in creating a fully-blooded Cetra in the female specimens, and yet there is nothing to show for it because we cannot test them.

If a new female specimen is not created, with a completely different genetic code all to its own and cerebral functions rivaling that of the male specimens or surpassing, the entirety of the female specimen lab will be cleaned out and its incompetent researchers will be... How to say this... Disposed of, rather cleanly, by the Turks. Obviously they cannot do their jobs correctly, so they will be replaced if failure is to result again.

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!" Everyone in the room sang, an open PHS on the counter in front of the now eight-year-old echoing the same tune from a man on the other side of the Planet. "Happy birthday, dear Mira! Happy birthday to you!" The song finished on a high note as the birthday girl blew her eight candles out, the dark-haired man standing above Mira putting on a show of hitting the last note the longest. Everyone laughed as Yuffie went to shove him, but he moved out of the way.

"C'mon, now! I can't sing for my kid?" Zack asked, smiling widely. "Never got to celebrate her first seven birthdays, now you're all taking swipes at me for being here?"

"Yuf-fie, leave'im alone!" Mira whined, leaning over the side of her chair. The threadbare red ribbon holding her hair back fell to her forehead, and with a more subdued and loving smile Zack knelt down and pushed it up to the top of her head. The little girl had grown her hair long, but it was still an untameable bushy mess of spikes and chunks of shorter hair. With a squeal, the little girl jumped forward out of her seat and latched herself onto her father as tightly as she could. The two fell backwards onto the Seventh Heaven's wooden floors, the wood creaking from the high-speed impact of two people with SOLDIER strength happily tussling.

"Break it up, both of you! You'll put a hole through my floor!" Tifa said, coming into the front of the bar with a long knife in one hand. Zack paused, pulling his daughter into a headlock with one arm where she couldn't get to him with her fists.

"Uh-oh." He said, looking down at the unruly mass of hair trapped between his arm and his side. "Teef's got a knife. We'd better do as she- Eugh!" Mira opened her mouth and licked Zack's arm heartily, leaving a trail of slobber. He let her go, wiping frantically at his afflicted limb. With a triumphantly ferocious cry, the eight-year-old jumped onto her father's shoulders and hung onto his nose. Even Cloud laughed at this, Tifa trying hard not to join as she scolded them all for encouraging such high-powered tussling.

"'Ey, 're we gonna eat or what?" Cid asked, turning one of the chairs around and sitting down with his arms crossed on the table. Tifa smiled and plunged the knife in her hand into the cake, cutting out three large slices from the monster of a cake. Each was placed onto a plate and passed around, Zack peeling the eight-year-old on his shoulders off his face and placing her in her chair at the head of the table. A little paper crown that Marlene had made had fallen off onto the table, and with a smile the First Class placed it back on her bushy spikes. The largest of the pieces was put in front of the birthday girl, along with a fork. The next two were placed in front of Cloud and Zack, forks given to them as well. As soon as everyone was served, Mira plunged her fork into her cake and pulled off a chunk that was almost too big to fit into her mouth. Somehow she managed, though, and chewed quickly before swallowing and beaming at Tifa.

"Thank you! It's really good!" She said, taking a smaller forkful of the chocolate cake with chocolate icing and a white icing Buster Sword on top. Everyone dug in after that, with the exception of Zack.

"Try it, Zack! 'S good." Cloud said, pausing with a large forkful of cake halfway to his mouth.

"With my apologies to miss Lockheart, I'm a Summon. I don't think I'm supposed to eat." Zack shrugged, twirling his fork around his fingers. "Not that it doesn't look good, but I've just never seen a Summon eat. I mean, really; if the Shiva Summon ate anything she wouldn't be able to fit into those scraps of cloth she calls clothing!"

"How many times have I asked you to stop calling me that?" Tifa asked from behind the bar, where she was washing off the knife she had used to cut the large birthday cake. "Just call me Tifa."

"Aw, c'mon!" Zack whined, finally resigning himself and plunging his fork into the cake. "You know you'll always be the tour guide in the cowboy hat to me!" Everyone laughed, even Vincent gave a small chuckle. Reeve had long since said his goodbyes, hanging up his end of the PHS connection. Yuffie coughed a few times on her cake in the middle of a laughing fit, pounding herself on the chest a few times. Mira shoveled her last bite of cake into her mouth, setting her fork down and pushing her plate away. Next to her, after his first bite of the cake, Zack had also dug in like he hadn't eaten for several years.

"I'm done now, can I open presents yet?" The eight-year-old asked hopefully. Tifa shook her head, sighing.

"Wait until everyone is done, alright?" She asked, and Mira nodded. The little girl crossed her arms across her chest and pouted dramatically, glaring at the pile of presents in the center of the table that taunted her so.

"Patience is a virtue." Vincent reprimanded, and the eight-year-old blew a lock of hair out of her eyes.

"He's right, you know." Zack said, pausing with a forkful of cake halfway to his mouth. "Man, Teef, this stuff is good."

"I suppose that anything eaten by someone who hasn't even seen food for a good while will be good." Tifa smiled, sliding the knife into the knife rack and coming back around the bar.

"Ah, c'mon! Don' be s'hard on yerself! Yer a damn good cook, Teef, s'git over it." Cid said, putting another piece of cake into his mouth and chewing thoughtfully. "An' th' cake's a piece'o work." Zack nodded in agreement, making muffled noises around the remains of the cake in his mouth.

"How 'bout now?" Mira pestered, one hand sneaking slowly towards a small wrapped disc. With a sigh, her father pushed the present closer, and she tore into the blue Chocobo-print wrapping paper with gusto. Tifa gave him a disapproving look, but didn't move the rest of the eight-year-old's pile of presents any farther down the table. With the paper gone, a metal bracelet with four slots in it glinted dully in the lighting of the bar.

"Happy birthday, Mira." Cloud smiled, pointing his fork at the bracelet that the girl had already latched around one of her small wrists. "That's a Four Slots, the slots are for Materia." With a brilliant smile, Mira dug into her pockets and pulled out her Materia one-by-one. Her Summon the Dead Materia glinted darkly next to the more cheery bright green of the Esuna given to her by her friend Kelsey and the frosty blue of an Ice Materia mailed to her for her birthday from some of her last remaining relatives, Rick and Ilsa Fair. Methodically, she slid each into a slot, leaving one open next to her Summon.

"We'll have to fix that blank spot, right kiddo?" Yuffie asked, leaning over the back of Mira's chair. The eight-year-old nodded, reaching for another of her presents. This one was slightly larger and was wrapped in the Rocket Town Sunday Funnies, as the title taped haphazardly over a hole in the paper stated. A few rips and tears, and a model rocket kit lay unwrapped in front of her. She smiled, thanking Cid heartily before pulling the smallest of her boxes towards her empty plate. It was wrapped in cloth and taped haphazardly together, and with a few pulls the eight-year-old sat the handkerchief wrapping on her lap and opened the small cardboard box and upended it. On a long green ribbon a metal pendant hung, three heads, a wing and a chain tail glinting brighter than the Four Slots at Mira's wrist.

"Thank you, Vincent." She was very formal, taking the two ends of her new necklace and tying them around her neck tightly. Unlike the worn and frayed ribbon in her hair, the knot on the ribbon around her neck stayed where it was supposed to.

"Of course." The gunman nodded once, putting his last bite of cake in his mouth before setting his fork down on his plate and standing up with both in hand. In the space it took Mira to rip open the paper of her next present, he deposited the dirty dish in the bar's sink and made it back to his chair. A small tiara sparkled in the table in front of Mira's seat, surrounded by torn rice paper and a long silk bow. With a glare and a raised eyebrow, the eight-year-old looked up at the Ninja hanging over the back of her seat.

"Yuffie?" She asked, taking the paper crown off her head carefully and putting the very nice present on her head. It was nearly drowned by the messy black spikes carefully held back by her ribbon, but sparkled triumphantly on its perch.

"Yeah?" The Kunoichi asked, pulling the tiara from the little girl's head and placing it back with a better perch and hold on her hair.

"I'm eight, and I do more boy stuff than all the boys in my class put together." Everyone laughed, Zack getting to his feet and tousling Mira's hair with one hand.

"Don't worry, I think you're responsible enough to have something like that." Zack pulled his hand away and the tiara stayed put, spikes of hair popping slowly back into place as his form began to dissolve.

"Hey, kiddo? I gotta go. You'll be alright with all these hooligans, right?" The SOLDIER asked jokingly, smiling. Mira nodded solemnly, fixing the sparkly gift on her head and smiling.

"Right." In a swish of air that smelled of flowers, the Summoned First Class was gone.

... Yeah, I just killed my fanbase. I need to go hide in a corner and cry now that I realize just how badly this sucks.